This is a watercolour sketch of one of the gates to the walled garden at Nymans a National Trust garden in Sussex UK.I was sat only 12 metres from the main path but on this side path it was quiet enough that a mouse or vole was carrying her litter of babies across the path one at a time to (presumably) a better home in the long grass to the right of the path. As I say it was very quiet until two German tourists noticed me and decided that the view must be worth a photo if I was sketching it- so he went and stood in front of the gate and she came and stood right in front of me until she had her shot, not a trace of an excuse me! So rude!
The reason I went was because it was the sort of day when it was threatening rain and there was space in the car park. Due to the new charges at Wakehurst Place many people are going to Nymans instead. This is a shame as it is a much smaller garden with a more intimate scale and too many visitors would make it difficult to sit down and sketch or appreciate the garden so well.
Going back to the sketch it has a schoolgirl error in it …can you see? I will need to do some work in the studio on it or make a copy; I also need to get some opaque paint to put in the cream roses growing over the gate….or do a copy. It has a nice feel however.
5″ x 7″
So then I did it again and although I thought that this one was a bit out of control I probably like it best….its a softer version. It’s painted in daylight …back lit which is technically not sensible.
Life is a bit odd at the moment there are lots of things going on but having lost my aunt I find myself a bit adrift mentally. There are no discernable gaps in the day, not usually a sense of freed up time, more an accusing pile of deferred tasks from when I was too pressed to do them-which now I can do them ( in theory) are not appealing to me. I sorted through my purse which was bursting and failed to find what I need ( a receipt ) I did however find all sorts of oddments which needed dealing with. I know, deeply unimpressive use of a woman’s time I also started stitching a seam which had gone.In my defence I seem to have caught a monumental cold at the Viking exhibition on Monday. I wandered into one of my favourite shops near the British Museum, Cornelissen & Son’s colourman in Great Russell Street….its very little changed from the Seventies (and it looked Victorian then); my school art teacher sent me there to buy a portfolio( which is still in use!) I have never bought loose pigment to work with but this is where to get it should you need to.
Yesterday was sunny and glorious and I was stuck in Kent with No.2 son on a course….I spent the day at a National Trust garden sketching. Now that I know would have been impossible before, I would have had to make cover arrangements and have been worrying about how they would work. The sketches are both unfinished and as I took one off the block to start a second, in order to alter it I have to tape it onto a board to prevent it cockling. Cockling is a word that resonates with Cornelissen’s. To see what I mean look at Making a Mark:- http://makingamark.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/Artist-Quality-Pigments-Artists-Colourmen.html
This was my second attempt, after dark so the light is from the opposite direction and artificial. I was happy with this to start with until I looked longer and realised the shape of the coffee can is wrong…..it’s what happens with pictures. Sometimes there isn’t one which isn’t wrong in one way or another.
The little cup was delivered by mistake once,we told the supplier- who replaced it with the item ordered, and then said that as it was too expensive to post back we should keep it….at which point customs and excise contacted us for the VAT due on it as an imported item. In reality it had no value to us or to the supplier who did not think it worth the return postage. However the revenue insisted on a notional value and we were obliged to pay tax on that. I put some primulas in it with some forget-me-nots. There are three attempts to paint this all have their merits and all have their faults.
This is what I started with:
I will say first that there is something very irritating about these …..too stiff or something, too scratchy?
Size 6″ x 6″ These have been admired so I have posted them for sale on Etsy my shop is Lemonaday of course.
The peppers came from a market in Shoreham, I bought them from the grower and they were the prettiest thing to be had. This picture (above) is quite recent the next one is a pen and ink with wash of some fresh chillies selected from the box, it actually should come shortly after a similar sort of sketch done last autumn (#211, October 2013).
We went to a christening in London yesterday and this is what I did for the little girl who was being christened. The name is quite well camouflaged in the picture. As luck would have it the weather was perfect and the capital was in bloom already. Pear trees,cherry trees, plums and great swathes of Clematis armandii. The trains were rubbish however with multiple engineering works, we threaded our way out to the Brighton line in the oddest way and not even in the same way we had got through getting into Victoria.
6″ x 6″ approx
This one is recent; rambutans- I bought them on a whim because they looked so bonkers.They are the weirdest of weird tropical fruit as well as coming up on “Pointless” as quite a good answer. The only exotic fruit that beat them was akee which you pretty much have to be Caribbean to know. Akee also looks and tastes a little like scrambled egg when it is cooked which is why it is served with salt cod, not entirely fruity really.
For those as yet unhooked by Pointless, it is a BBC quiz where you have to try and get the answers that are least known in the general population. That’s why I love it when food and plants come up because I know those subjects. If, as is normal, there is a question on cricket, football or F1 I am stumped. I get a lot of pleasure from wondering who would be the ideal partner for this quiz, someone whose knowledge filled in the gaps in mine.
Going back to the rambutans they tasted a little like muscat grapes or a cross between that and lychee.
This is a detail from a painting which I started as a demo. at an exhibition, I did finish it at some point but everything was overshadowed by what happened in the 36 hours following the exhibition.
Lovely aunt came to the exhibition with her visiting carer, they had a look round and some coffee and cake and off they went, quite jolly really. By the next day my aunt was keeling over sideways in a chair so I called the paramedics who bundled her protesting into an ambulance, I was with her until 02.30am in A&E she was probably six hours on a trolley but we were at least in a cubicle. She had pneumonia but scans revealed more serious problems that were not going to get better. Its never going to end well when they look concerned and say was your aunt a heavy smoker? No she wasn’t but… that conversation stemmed from an initial misinterpretation of a scan and what was wrong was not related directly to cigarettes, rather old age.
She recovered well enough to get back out of hospital and her triumphant grin when she got over here for Sunday roast was worth a fortune. She enjoyed Christmas, especially the halibut I bought for Christmas Eve. What do you do when you are standing in the fishmongers just before closing on Christmas Eve and there is very little left? I panicked and bought a magnificent slab of halibut and then some sea bass in case that was not enough…it cost as much as the goose for Christmas day! There was too much but it was utterly delicious and mother and lovely aunt both enjoyed it. I made a sauce with cream, lemon and capers from the pan juices. She had lots of visitors during the winter and her live in carers worked very hard, so did I in fairness as I provided almost all the breaks for the carers. Lovely aunt had always given money to various charities but the only organisation that helped in this period in a practical way was the hospice to which she had never donated. Social services? give me strength…it can take two solid days to phone them, if you speak to someone they may promise to phone you back….they don’t get back reliably…they tell you that you have made a mistake and that there is a social worker attached to the Memory Clinic who will deal with you…there isn’t….it takes two solid days to get someone on the phone to tell them what they should know and they then promise to get back to you and of course they don’t. Many charities ask for donations showing happy clients being supported at home by the charity…but don’t make it obvious how one accesses that help or only offer a service in other districts, advice lines are helpful but not the answer to everything.
There is a great deal wrong with our system of care for the elderly….there is not really a coherent system for starters…visiting the hospital every day made it abundantly clear that there were terrible things happening to many elderly people.
My aunt died of cancer last month and there was a lovely funeral beneath the Downs on one of the first dry days we have had this winter of storms. The snowdrops were just opening then but now they are almost over and life must keep moving forward. I am belatedly pruning the cooking apple tree and splitting logs- its therapeutic.
This is the whole picture:
size 15cm x 30cm, 6″ x 12″ approx.
There was to be a mornings painting of fruit with lovely aunt but she, not being able to concentrate as well as before, ate the still life!!
This is 6in x 8.5in approx 15cm x 20cm approx
I get this orchid to flower once every few years it is scented and rather strange; there is something of the night about it. I found it for sale in, of all places to buy interesting plants, ASDA( or Walmart in the UK for international readers)! I bought two to decorate the house I was selling, the other orchid, a pretty coral pink, died years ago. This one seems to manage on the benign neglect I bestow on the rather more common moth orchid. The painting is drawn at about life size.
I am too nerdy for my own good , of course it felt silly to own an orchid and not know its name….so I googled “maroon green and purple orchid” and came up with: Zygopetalum Louisendorf from the images or rather I picked up a slightly similar Zygopetalum and then regoogled it. Oh the joys of infinite information…or rather information tending to infinity.
Saw the wren today looking busy…something I should be!